This is the first account of Jarawara, a Southern Amazonia language of great complexity and unusual interest, and now spoken by less than two hundred people. It has only two open lexical classes, noun and verb, and a closed adjective class with fourteen members which can only modify a noun. Verbs have a complex structure with three prefix and some twenty-five suffix slots. There is an eleven-term tense-modal system with an evidentiality contrast (eyewitness/non-eyewitness) in the three past tenses. Of the two genders, feminine and masculine, feminine is unmarked. There are at least eight types of subordinate clause constructions, including complement clauses, relative clauses, coreferential dependent clauses, and 'when', 'if', 'due to the lack of' and 'because of' clauses.There are only eleven consonants and four vowels but an extensive set of ordered phonological rules of lenition, vowel assimilation and unstressed syllable omission. There are four imperative inflections (with different meanings) and three explicit interrogative suffixes within the mood system. The book is entirely based on field work by the authors.
R. M. W. Dixon is Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. He has published grammars of a number of Australian languages (including Dyirbal and Yidin), in addition to A Grammar of Boumaa Fijian (University of Chicago Press 1988), A New Approach to English Grammar, on Semantic Principles (OUP 1991, revised edition in preparation), and The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia (OUP 2004). His books on typological
theory include Where have all the Adjectives Gone? and other Essays in Semantics and Syntax (1982) and Ergativity (1994). His essay The Rise and Fall of Languages (1997) expounded a punctuated equilibrium model for language development which is the basis for his detailed case study Australian
Languages: their Nature and Development (2002). He is currently working on an extensive study of basic linguistic theory.